Lingo – noun  lin·go  \ ˈliŋ-(ˌ)gō \ : the vocabulary or jargon of a particular field of interest.

We know one of the challenges with evaluation is the terminology. Here is a quick primer on some of the most commonly used terms in evaluation.

Applied Research

Used to answer a specific question that has direct application to the real world. It is designed to create new knowledge that can be used in different settings.

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Benchmark

Comparing results with others or with an external standard that can be used as a reference point. A benchmark can be quantitative or qualitative.

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Baseline

The situation as it exists before the intervention or initiative. This is important to gather before an intervention is launched in order to do pre and post analysis. It could be done through intake interviews and observations that are used later for comparison to measure change.

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Evaluation

The objective assessment of a project, program or policy that is based on a systematic collection of data about the activities, characteristics and results. Evaluation findings are used to improve program effectiveness and/or inform decisions about future programming. Related term: impact assessment

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Evaluation design

Describes the way an evaluation plan is laid out. It sets out the questions to be used, how data will be collected and analyzed, and on how results will guide decision-making. Related terms: data collection plan, evaluation framework, evaluation plan

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ECB (Evaluation Capacity Building)

The process of improving an organization’s ability to use evaluation to learn from its work and improve results.

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Evaluation Framework

A tool used to organize and link evaluation questions, outcomes or outputs, indicators, data sources, and data collection methods.

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Goal

a statement that explains what the program wishes to accomplish. It sets the fundamental, long-range direction. Typically, goals are broad general statements.

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Impact

A change that can be attributed to an intervention or program. AKA effect, result, long-term outcome.

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Impact Evaluation

Determines whether a program or intervention has met its goals. It is usually done a number of years after intervention to understand overall effect. Related terms: impact analysis, impact assessment, outcome evaluation

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Inputs

Resources available for the delivery of a program. It includes the people, organizational capacity, infrastructure or knowledge available as well as the financial resources needed.

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Indicator

A factor used to measure or demonstrate change. An indicator can be used when it’s not possible to directly measure an outcome. Related terms: measure; key performance indicator; metric.

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Indicators

Specific measures indicating the point at which goals and/or objectives have been achieved. Often, they are proxies for goals and objectives which cannot be directly measured.

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Key Performance Indicator

An indicator that is identified as being of highest importance to measuring success. Related term: performance measures

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Logical Framework

A tool used to outline, in table form, the needs, objectives, inputs, outputs and desired impacts of a given program or initiative. Related term: log frame.

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Logic Model

A diagram or picture that shows how a program or intervention is going to lead to the intended outcomes. It describes the logical relationships among program elements. It usually identifies the inputs, activities, outputs and outcomes of a program.  AKA theory of change, logical framework, log frame, benefits map, impact map, results chain.

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Outcome Evaluation

Assesses how effectively a program or initiative has been in achieving its outcomes. It can also be used to assess the process by which a program produces its outcomes.

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Objective

Breaks the goal down into smaller parts that provide specific, measurable actions by which the goal can be accomplished. Objectives define for our stakeholders and partners the results we expect to achieve in our program or intervention.

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Outcome

The change that is expected to be achieved as a result of a program or intervention. The change can be to the attitudes, behaviours, knowledge, skills, status or level of functioning. Outcomes can be classified as short-term, intermediate or long-term. Related terms: objectives, goals.

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Output

What the activity of a given program or initiative produces in terms of size and scope. It is usually numbers based, such as the number of participants or hours of tutoring delivered.

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Program Evaluation

Involves building a theory of change, gathering data about the activities, characteristics and outcomes of the program, and generating recommendations for action.

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Performance Measurement

Involves ongoing day-to-day tracking of program accomplishments and progress toward goals. Measures may address any aspect of a program including its inputs, outputs, outcomes or the way in which it is delivered (process). Related term:  performance monitoring.

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Performance Management

Processes that an organization uses to learn from its work and make tactical and strategic adjustments to achieve its goals and objectives. Data on key aspects of an organization’s or program’s activities are collected, monitored and analyzed.

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Program Monitoring

Consistently measuring the delivery and results of a program or initiative over time so that changes can be made to improve it.  It is a part of an overall system of performance management. Related term: performance measurement.

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SMART Objectives

SMART stands for: Specific, Measurable, Attainable/Achievable, Relevant, Time bound. Studies have shown that setting goals or objectives that have these qualities increases the likelihood that they will be achieved.

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Systems Evaluation

Involves bringing together many kinds of data from different programs and sites in order to demonstrate their cumulative effect.

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Qualitative Data

Non-numerical information collected about the qualities or characteristics of a program or initiative.

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Quantitative Data

Information that can be expressed in numerical terms, counted or compared on a scale.

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Stakeholder

Individuals, groups or organizations that have a direct or indirect interest in the program being evaluated. This can include funders, managers, participants or the broader public.

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Theory of Change

A detailed description of how and why a desired change is expected to happen. It explains how a group of early and intermediate accomplishments lead to a desired long-range result. It can also include the assumptions about the process through which the change will occur. Related terms: Impact Theory, Log frame, Logic model, Logical framework

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